Sunday, March 4, 2012

Třinec takes the lead, Brno advances

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The third games of the best-of-five preliminary round series in the Czech Extraliga playoffs were played Saturday night. Oceláři Třinec beat PSG Zlín 6-2 to take the lead, while Kometa Brno finished off Rytíři Kladno with a 4-3 shootout victory.

Třinec 6 – 2 Zlín
(Třinec leads best-of-five series 2-1.)

Třinec was dominant on home ice Saturday.
Photo: Marian Ježowicz,
Oceláři Třinec’s reign as Czech national champions is one game closer to extending into the quarterfinals. On Saturday night, they faced the possibility of being pushed to the brink of elimination, but instead looked as dominant on home ice as the team with a 9-1 home record in last year’s playoffs, winning 6-2.

Two goals from veteran Miloslav Hořava, one off his skate and the other short-handed, gave Třinec a 2-0 lead by the 25-minute mark. Marek Melenovský cut the lead to 2-1, but then was penalized just five seconds later. On the power play, Lukáš Zíb restored the two-goal lead with a blast from the point, is first of two goals in the game, and from there they cruised to victory.

In addition to the two-goal performances of Hořava and Zíb, Tomáš Kůrka scored a goal and added three helpers and Josef Hrabal, Jan Peterek and Václav Varaďa had two-point nights for Třinec. After assisting on Melenovský’s goal, Zlín captain Petr Čajanek scored a power-play marker of his own with 34 seconds left to make the final score look slightly better.

Coach Pavel Janků was pleased with his team’s performance. “We played high-tempo hockey. That’s the way I remember us playing,” he said to the media afterward.

The two teams go back at it in Silesia on Sunday at 18:10 CET. It will be televised and webcast in the Czech Republic on ČT4 and available online elsewhere at If needed, a fifth and decisive game will be played in Zlín on Tuesday.

Kladno 3 – 4 Brno (shootout)
(Brno wins best-of-five series 3-0.)

Vojtěch Němec scoring the shootout winner in Kladno.
Photo: Roman Kantor,
In Kladno, Rytíři were in the driver's seat for most of the night and were three minutes away from extending their season, but just couldn’t hold on.

After a scoreless first period, Pavel Patera and Jiří Drtina gave Kladno a 2-0 lead in the first half of the second. Brno’s Jakub Svoboda and Kladno’s Jiří Bicek then traded goals exactly one minute apart, and the 3-1 margin was maintained well into the third period.

Down by two goals, Kometa began putting on pressure in the third period and, when Milan Toman was called for hooking with 10:32 on the clock, they began attacking relentlessly. Cikánek was forced to make several saves, but with 22 seconds left in the advantage, Tomáš Žizka found a seam to make it a one-goal game.

Urged on by the large contingent of Kometa fans in the building, the visitors continued to pursue the equalizer and finally Jozef Kováčik got it on a second rebound attempt that Cikánek had no chance on.

After a scoreless ten-minute overtime period, the game and series was decided in a shootout. Of the six shooters, Vojtěch Němec was the only one to score, beating Cikánek on Brno’s second attempt. Finnish goaltender Sasu Hovi replaced Jiří Trvaj in the Brno net for the shootout and stopped all three shots he faced.

“We are pleased to have finished the series, and for that we are heavy and awkward opponent to win 3-0 in games,” said Brno coach Lubomír Oslizlo. “What makes us appreciate the comeback more is things weren’t looking good for us when Kladno was up 3-1 but we were able to put on pressure and get back to even.”

Kometa Brno has advanced to the national quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. They will begin their next series next Saturday against either Sparta Praha or Plzeň 1929.

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